On Global Running Day back in June a runner in my town posted a challenge on our local Mom’s page. The challenge was to run every street in town. I was up for the challenge! It seemed like a great way to elevate some of the boredom I was feeling from running the same routes for close to 10 years.
I went down to the borough hall and got a copy of a map. At home I took a yellow highlighter to it, marking all the streets that I had already run – my regular routes that I knew so well. I highlighted in green the railroad tracks that bisect our little town; in red, the state highway that creates another division and a bit of a hazard for runners. I wasn’t going to run on the highway.
When I first started running – that is dragging myself out of bed early in the morning, often in the dark – I noticed something. I was suddenly more awake on my commute into the city. I was a little more focused when I got to the office. The more I ran, the more I was able to apply the discipline it took to complete those morning runs to my work later in the day.
Running made me a better employee! The meditative value of running also allowed me to think through issues; I’d often arrive at work after a morning run with solutions to yesterday’s challenge. I even had the courage to transition from a dissatisfying sales career to a very meaningful position planning events for a local non-profit.
I was going to publish something totally different today and then this morning this “memory” from 2014 popped into my Facebook news feed:
What I’m positive about/thankful for…Day 5 of 5…
1. I can run, as it may be the only thing that’s keeping me sane (I’m also thankful for my amazing coach, Rob McCarthy, who also has me running fast, which is keeping my self esteem at an all time high);
2. I’m thankful for my friends…all of you…and especially a few in particular (who I won’t call out here in fear that someone not included may feel slighted)…the really special ones – you know who you are – you have been there when I needed you, you knew when to make me laugh, when to just listen, when I needed a pep talk, you knew the right thing to say, or knew when it was best to say nothing at all , you’ve made the last 5 months fly by and made sure I knew I was a survivor. Thank you!
3. And finally, my dog, because when all else fails, I never doubt that at least HE loves me.
Several of my friends have lost their spouses over the last couple of years, and I’ve lost a few Facebook friends as well. You naturally assume that when people get to a certain age, this would not be an uncommon occurrence, and therefore expected. But we are not of “a certain age.” These were people in their fifties or sixties with presumably years left to live.
How does one go on after losing a spouse they had planned to be with for years, if not decades, to come? When I was the CEO of Gilda’s Club (a cancer support organization), we referred to our members – people living with cancer – as the experts. The idea was that the experience of someone with cancer, or living with the reality of a loved one’s diagnosis, made him or her an expert in living with that experience. The medical community was certainly experts in treating the disease, but without the experience of actually “living with cancer” they were not experts in living, only in medicine.
So why am I telling you this? Well, after an eight-year period in which I lost both of my parents, a close aunt and uncle, four jobs, my dog, and my spouse too, I consider myself an expert of sorts in managing grief. So for those of you dealing with this type of loss (and this may apply to someone dealing with an unexpected separation and divorce as well), here is my “expert” advice.